It wasnt’ what I expected. Inside an envelope from the Fuller Center for Housing was a DVD, a brochure, probably a newsletter. But also a letter. A personalized letter from Millard.
I was taken aback. Some of it was pretty much a form letter. “As you can see, Brad, I’m enclosing several items which tell you more about the Fuller Center…” Other parts were personalized about where and how we interacted in his recent trip to Abilene: “Finally, of course, that was a special treat for you to pick me up on Thursday morning and drive me to the airport.”
Then there was the rest. The real personalized part. “I deeply appreciate that final bit of time with you….you are doing an outstanding job…May God continue to bless you and…” And talking about our mutual friend, Mack.
I’m a “words of affirmation” person. Telling me something nice goes a long way. This letter– from such an inspiring, global leader who had rocked my world a week earlier– took me by surprise.
Rather than put more of the text here to brag and say “Millard thought I was great, you should, too!” I’d like to briefly reflect on some things I learned about being a leader– particularly a leader of a social benefit organization–from this letter and my encounters with Millard those three days.
- He didn’t just send a form letter. If he didn’t remember, he (or someone) kept good notes on exactly who did what while he was in town. This went a long way.
- The letter didn’t just have my name scattered throughout it. It talked about me and made relevant comments from our discussions and what he had learned of me.
- We found mutual connections and talked of them. Millard even called that mutual friend the morning after our first event to talk to him about us meeting. And then shared encouragement from that friend and mentor.
- He remembered people’s names and faces. My friend Nancy didn’t talk to Millard at the “Sweet Evening” event we held, but she was there. But he recognized her the following day– in the midst of meeting hundreds of people– when she did talk to him at his fourth event of the day at ACU.
- He was himself and he was honest. If he saw or heard something he didn’t think was right, he pointed it out. He was kind, forthright, relaxed and personable. He shared personal details and happenings.
- He learned from others, too. Not only was he a master at the connections and the follow-up, he was learning from other masters.
Some of these things are simple. Some require some practice. All are worthwhile in the important business of leading, visioning, fundraising, and connecting. I learned much about passion and vision from Millard. And about affordable and decent housing and its challenges and virtues. About God’s call. And about leading and making sure people know they count.